Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

One of the more interesting (at least to me) aspects of being a widow is that you have no one to blame but yourself. I mean, you’re making decisions about stuff on your own and you get to own the outcomes. All by yourself.

So when the opportunity presented itself to submit DREAM DANCER to a local publisher, I grabbed it. I knew the publisherImage a little, I knew what was sold under her imprint, and I figured I had nothing to lose.

Except time.

It took her a full year to decide to publish the book. I signed the contract three days before my 60th birthday. I knew there would be work to do, because technology had changed since I wrote the book in the late 90s. Would I leave it where it was, or would I edit to include cell phones and Wi-Fi? I was anxious to begin and was looking forward to the process.

And I was anxious to begin work.

Then I was still anxious to begin work.

And then I was worried because the work was not started.

My publisher decided to edit DREAM DANCER herself. And still the work was not started.

Publishing late 2013 became early 2014. Publishing in early 2014 became mid 2014. Mid 2014 became later in the year. No pub date was ever set, no edits, no move towards galleys. Each time I asked the question, I was assured all was well.

Well, all wImageas apparently not well. To the best of my knowledge, work on DREAM DANCER was never started. After almost three years of waiting for something to happen, I think it’s time to stop waiting.

Therefore, it’s with great sadness that I announce I have withdrawn DREAM DANCER from my publisher. It is an amicable parting of the ways, and for that I am glad.

As for what happens now, I don’t know. It’s a good book….or so I’ve been told. It’s an action/adventure kinda romp. I thought I was writing lust in the dust, but it turned out to be something more than that. It was fun to write, and I hear it’s fun to read. I am open to suggestions as to what to do next. Honestly, I don’t have a clue.

Meanwhile, this blog goes on. And on. And on.

If you are a literary agent….or even play one on TV, let me know. I could sure use a good agent right about now.

The Wifely Person’s Tip o’the Week 

Elphaba says: No good deed goes unpunished.

Remember that. It’s not merely important….

It’s true.

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We Stood, We Walked, We Made Our Point.

  One of the reporters who covered last week’s silent flash mob protest wrote:

Organizer Susan Schwaidelson Siegfried placed an initial, cryptic call to action through her personal blog on Monday night, inviting anyone in the Twin Cities who wanted to get involved to email her for more information. Although participants were initially instructed that the media would not be contacted until a few hours before the event, so as not to alert the restaurant, Schwaidelson Siegfried and co-organizer Margie Newman broke their media ban early, contacting City Pages for an interview on Wednesday morning.

Rob Callahan for the Star Tribune Mobile. 

Wow! I’m cryptic! What a thrill! What a total rush! Wish it was true. For the record, I’d like to know who notified the restaurant. Anyone wanna venture a guess since it wasn’t either Margie or me????

The so-called media ban was because it was supposed to be a spontaneous flash mob. If you’ve ever seen a video of one, random people bump into each other and start playing Beethoven or dancing The Nutcracker or some other thing which is clearly anything but random. Still, people love it. Granted we weren’t striking up Ode To Joy in front of Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit, but we did want to seem, at least, to be spontaneous. Leave it to the press to make some SOP thing a big mystery. The bigger mystery, by the way, is why the above article was pulled from the main web site and relocated to the Strib’s mobile site. Thankfully, the Star Tribune kept Jeff Wheeler’s fabulous photographs…the ones that made us look like a total class act.

So we get to the corner of 23rd and University NE. We do not p

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Photo by Nick Kozel – City Pages

ark in their lot; we park on the street. We pin yellow stars, pink, red, and black triangles on each others’ coats. We hand out slips of paper that will answer any question without us talking. We pick up our boxes and valises and I quickly review the plan: walk in small groups, maintain silence, and do not block the restaurant’s entrance. We take our first walk down the block and there are the bully boys in red t-shirts with big, bulging muscles who look menacingly at this ragtag line of deportee re-enactors. We ignore them and keep walking. We get to the end of the block, turn and face the street, and line up silently…as though we are waiting for a bus….or a cattle car. 

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Photo by Jeff Wheeler – Minneapolis Star Tribune

Traffic slows down. People give us the thumbs up and honk. They wave. All but two show support. I won’t even mention what the other two yelled out the window. We faced the street for about 10 minutes, then, in small groups, we walked to the other end of the block, turned, and walked back. 

In the middle of the walking part, the tow truck showed up. And the bully boys were pointing at this car and that car. They were going to tow the car of one of the journalists…but he quickly pointed out THEY told him where to park. So they focused on another car…only that one belonged to a restaurant patron who quickly came out to stop them. 

We walked from about 7:15 until 7:30; then Margie and I announced we had made

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Photo by Jeff Wheeler – Minneapolis Star Tribune

our point and it was time to stop. That’s when several reporters came over and talked to us. KSTP-Channel 5, what Ziggy used to refer to as The Mr. Bill News since every story began with “Oooh Nooooo!” in the fashion of “if it bleeds, it leads,” had a video guy there, but footage never showed up. I guess walking up and down isn’t exciting enough. 

Thursday, the strangest thing happened.I got an email from Sophia Muender of SpiegelONLINE  (as in Der Spiegel) asking if she could interview me. I agreed; we arranged a time for her to call from Hamburg. We talked for about a half-hour. She asked some good questions; I did have to explain what a tow truck was, but that was the only language issue. 

The article appeared on Friday. I could watch the WP Blog-o-Meter spinning with hits from Germany. The WP Facebook page was also getting huge traffic. But it was the list of comments that blew me, and Margie, too, right out of the water. They were wonderful. They were supportive and thankful. There were private messages, too, pointing out that the original party, had it been held in Germany, would’ve been illegal. Take a moment to go there and read them. They are amazing. 

And on Sunday, we were picked up in La Sopitas in Mexico

Although not everyone was on board with our decision to walk in front of Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit, I am, without a doubt, positive it was the right thing to do. Yes, there will be meetings and discussions, and hopefully these will include the restaurateur, Mario Pierzchalski, and the participants, but our silent presence on that corner was eloquent and visceral at the same time. We left the site knowing we had made an impact. 

And judging by the size of the tow truck and the number of bully boys standing around, one of those impacts had to be in Mr. Pierzchalski’s wallet. After all, he paid for all that security, dontcha know? 

Turns out there was another demonstration on Saturday night, by a more politically organized group called the Minneapolis Anti-Fascist Solidarity Action. They weren’t silent. They had bull horns, speeches, and a chant: 

No Nazis! No KKK! No fascists USA! 

The speeches were about the working class enclave of Nord’East and how those people…the ones in the restaurant… are racists and against freedom, unions, jobs and stuff like that. It was, judging by the video, very passionate.

And kind of misrepresenting reality. The gist of their comments centered on removing that segment of the population, but in truth, they are the ones who come off as anti-free speech. There was an edge in their rhetoric that was the complete opposite of where we were. The bullhorns serve as a way to whip the crowd into some kind of frenzy…but this is Minnesota and we don’t do frenzy very well. Frankly, I couldn’t follow their stream of logic.

But that’s me. I came up with the silent flash mob idea so that our silence would speak for the victims. The freedoms we treasure as Americans are the very freedoms denied the victims of the Holocaust, both civilian and military alike. I wanted to focus on preserving that which is guaranteed in the Constitution. In that moment, we needed to celebrate the opportunity for free speech….not to preach how others do not have the right to talk. It’s a tough line and not easily explained and I’m certain I’m bungling it, but at the end of the day, what we have is worth preserving even if it means some people are going to have tasteless Nazi dinner parties.

We were a small crowd. We had no bull horns, no chants, no rhetoric. Our little silent flash mob was practical and functional. People all over the world read about it…and wrote to us to share their support, citing the silence again and again as the most powerful way to deliver the message. 

And I am more than okay with that.

We did good. Real good. Margie and I are still kvelling.

 

 

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Sitting Down Is Not An Option

This gallery contains 2 photos.

America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing … Continue reading

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If Not Now……

March 17th, 204

So this plane went up in the air, flew around for a while, said “goodnight” to Malaysian air traffic control, then disappeared. Sorta. Seems it made a couple of unscheduled turns, pinged a satellite a few times, then disappeared.

In a nutshell, that’s about all we really know about Malaysia flight 370. So far, anyway.

What I knewImage about Malaysia 370 was scary enough for me. I put one of my travelers on the MH red-eye to Beijing…and could not remember which day. The flight took off after midnight which, when I’m advising travelers, I am always very careful to say something like…”the flight takes off at 12:05 a.m…..that’s the middle of the night between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, so you have to be at the airport late Tuesday night to make that flight.  Now, let’s double check…is your last meeting Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning?” I cannot tell you the number of times there’s been a big “uh oh! Wednesday morning!” followed by a date adjustment. So I spent part of the first weekend banging my head against the wall wondering what night I booked that fight. Thankfully, I did not; my traveler flew in the wee hours of Thursday morning. 

It’s not the first time I’ve waited for the passenger manifest to be published. A friend from my college days was on the American Airlines flight 11 out of Boston on 9/11.  I had two clients originally booked on Air France 447 from Rio to Paris on June 1, 2009, only to change them a few days prior to return to the States instead. All of us in the industry have moments when we rack our brains to remember if we put someone on a particular flight. It comes with the job. 

We live in a dangerous world. People hijack planes and fly them into buildings. People lob missiles at schoolyards. People set off car bombs in market places. People gun down people exiting houses of worship. People drive their cars into crowds on the sidewalk. And kids shoot up schools. The places that should be safe are not. And that is reality.

How scared are we supposed to be? Do we not go out into pubic places? Do we not travel on mass transit? Do we stop flying? Do we home school our kids rather than risk sending them into a place with lots of other kids thereby making it a target for a crazy person?

Should we make each tragedy our own? Local tv stations look for anyone with a connection to whatever happened…the cousin of the hairdresser who was a friend of the brother-in-law of the woman who was a victim. Anything that will make whatever happened seem more personal. But does that do us any favors? Or does that just make us roll our eyes and think, “if it bleeds it leads so who cares?”

Once upon a time, I might have laughed at those questions, but not so much now. I think about what is safe and what is not every time I book a trans-oceanic flight. I have close friends in Israel….that’s a worry on its own plane. What if that boatload of arms had reached Gaza? Another dear friend works in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia….and I worry about his safety all the time. I worry about the senior son playing at festivals and in some pretty tough neighborhoods.

What is safe now may not be safe tomorrow.

The US cannot police the world any more than it can police the country. If we were to curtail our foreign misadventures, would that make us more safe….or would it put countless others at risk? And is it our job to ride off to save the world? What if the world doesn’t want to be saved according to our vision of how the word should be? Is there a moral imperative, a moral obligation, or does that kind of talk just mask the banality of our own colonial ambitions?

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In the last week, we’ve listened to John McCain rattle his saber at Vlad the Invader while the President is putting economic sanctions onto the table. What outcome does Senator McCain envision if we put so much as a single boot on the ground in Ukraine? Surely he does not believe the US would be greeted with open arms. We have millions of our own citizens living in almost 3rd world conditions and he wants to open another front? Give me break.

I have no answers, only more and more questions. Some of them are not pretty. Others are probably naïve. But I cannot believe for one New York minute that I’m the only person asking them. Hillel is said to have asked the best questions of all…as it appears in Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Fathers):

1:14. He would also say: If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?

These are not abstract questions any more. In fact, they cut to the heart of our national dilemma: do we have a responsibility to We, the People first, to make sure we clean our own house? Mired in greed and corruption, we are hardy a beacon to the word. Is the obligation to the rest of the world military or humanitarian? And if we are to act, is there a moment for which we wait….or do we, as a nation, act as quickly as possible?

And in the end, the final question must be….what makes us safer…safest?

As for MH370….I think it landed someplace….but that’s just me. There are so many islands out there where a runway could’ve been smoothed without anyone being any the wise. Somehow, ditching in the ocean just doesn’t make sense. Right now, there is nothing to do but wait.

 

Wifely Person’s Tip o’the Week
Older folks, even blind ones, enjoy getting birthday cards.
It’s a just the idea that someone thought about them not just on the day, but ahead.
If you know someone who will turn 93 on Friday, a birthday card would be nice.
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We Are All Vashti

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March 10, 2014

 

Well, it’s that time again…Purim is a week away and between the hamantashen baking and the usual opining, I am one busy person.

This year, Megillat Esther, strikes a particular chord for me. The story of Queen Esther is not just about how a nice Jewish girl from Shushan became queen of Persia or about saving Jews from genocide, or even about freedom or redemption. It’s about all those things. There isn’t a person on the planet who can’t find something to take away from that story.

But here’s the thing: I’m not so sure any of it happened the way the book says. It kinda reads more like a novella than a historical account, but who knows? Maybe there’s a poppy seed of truth in there someplace…and for me, that would be a bonus.

Looking at a text at least 2000 years old requires two things: 1) the understanding that unless you’re reading it in some ancient language, you’re reading a translation, and 2) your understanding of the characters is tempered by that translation as well as the time in which you live. 

There is no way to know what the intent of the author was since you’re probably not reading what was originally written. It was the last book to make it into the canon we call Tanakh in the 1st century C.E., and it’s the only book not to have been found at all at Qumran in what is commonly called The Dead Sea Scrolls. If you’re not reading a Jewish copy of the Bible, you may very well be reading the retelling of the story as found in the Septuagint, the first comprehensive translation of the Bible…into Greek. If you’re reading a translation of the Latin version of the Bible, you’re probably getting some additional information that did not appear at all in the original, which most Hebrew scholars think probably made its appearance around the 4th -3rd century B.C.E. And one should not forget that nowhere in Esther does the word G-d appear.

Confused yet? Wait. It gets better.

The characters are total cardboard; they’re a bunch of archetypes. The king is usually portrayed as a dimwit, Mordechai as a smart guy, Vashti as evil, and Esther as obedience and feminine intelligence. The little we do know about the real history tells us that Ahashverus is probably Xerxes I who ruled Persia from 485–465 B.C.E. and this guy was no slouch. But he is in this story.

So here’s the text I want everyone to look at:

1:10 On the seventh day, when the king’s heart was merry with wine, he ordered Mehuman, Bizzetha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains who ministered in the presence of King Ahasuerus. 

1:11 To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the royal crown, to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was of comely appearance.

 1:12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s behest which was [brought] by the hand of the chamberlains, and the king became very wroth, and his anger burnt within him. 

Truth be told, Vashti is my favorite Biblical woman. She said no.  I want to believe her reasons were 21st century rational: she wasn’t gonna dance in front of a bunch of strangers. She was the queen. She had to command the respect of the other women in the palace. She was a woman of stature. And most of all, she was a woman of valor. In a time when women didn’t say no, she said no and she paid the price.

[An odd side note: some scholars make a point of pointing out the first line of the book does not call Ahasverus “king,” but from the very first mention, it calls Vashti “the queen.” Is it possible he came to the throne by marrying her as some scholars speculate? Well, probably not….but that is how his father secured his place on the Persian throne…by marrying Atossa,  the daughter of Cyrus the Great, one of the most beloved rulers ever. Even the Jews like Cyrus… so the answer to that question is no, since he is the son of Darius and Atossa, making him Cyrus’s grandson. Anyway….I digress.

Josephus (37 – c. 100 C.E), the guy who is the closest thing we have to an on-the-scene reporter, says of Vasti: 

But she, out of regard to the laws of the Persians, which forbid the wives to be seen by strangers, did not go to the king; and though he repeatedly sent the eunuchs to her, she nevertheless continued to refuse to come, until the king was so much angered that he broke up the banquet, rose up, and called for the Seven Persians who were responsible for the interpretation of the laws, and accused his wife, saying that he had been insulted by her because although she had repeatedly been called by him to his banquet, she had not obeyed him once.

So maybe saying “no” to a blatant attempt to humiliate is not such a newfangled idea. Vashti said no. And Ahashverus’s ultimate regret in doing away with his queen opens the door to Esther…and Esther’s own defiance by showing up at court unbidden…which set the resolution of the story in motion.

All over this country there are a whole lotta wannabe Ahashveruses telling women they don’t have the right to say no. They’re saying women don’t have the right to control what happens to their own bodies. They’re telling women they have to be breeders at the whim of men…husbands or not. They are taking the position that women’s reproductive healthcare is not to be readily available to all women. Texas has now forced the closure of 19 women’s clinics, leaving just 24 clinics to serve 24 million people contained in a state of 268,581 square miles. 

Women need to channel both Vashti and Esther. We need to rise up against that attempt to push us back into another century. We need to use our ballots. We need to use our voices. And most of all, we need to come together as a single voice, pro-choice/pro-life/Jewish/Christian/Muslim/Hindu/Buddhist/ Wiccan/whatever to advocate for ourselves. Clearly, no one else is going to do it.  If We, the Women of The United States continue to send these yahoos back to Congress and the state legislatures, we have no one to blame but ourselves. 

What are we telling our daughters, our granddaughters, our great-granddaughters….and on and on and on?

Women of The United States, we are all Vashti. And we need to say NO very loud and clear.

Wifely Person’s Tip o’the Week
Shalach manot is the opposite of Halloween. Feel free to leave an anonymous basket of goodies for a friend. 
Bonus ~ if you want to know what I think happened to Vashti, click here.
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Vladimir the Great and Other Delusions of Grandeur

Back in the Dark Ages, when I thought Ziggy’s name was Siegfried Siegfried (no kidding, I did) I used to enjoy listening to him explain stuff. One of my favorites was the three hour explanation of how cows got white faces. I was very impressed. His dad was a big animal vet and I thought he learned this from his father…..and not, as I would find out soon enough, from the opening of James Michener’s CENTENNIAL. He explained other things…like how sugar beets were processed, why some batteries died sooner than others, that computers only understand 1s and 0s….something I still don’t quite grok…, and how any guy who was cutting you off on the freeway or was giving a girl the hubba-hubba was really compensating for a general lack of size in the…ahem….manhood department. It’s true, he assured me, these guys were all suffering from small manhood and that’s why they had this macho fixation. 

So it was no surprise when first macho-man shirtless Putin pictures starting showing up, Ziggy held up the picture in the newspaper and said, “This guy must have the smallest dick on the planet.” Yes, gentle readers, I did a spit take with the coffee. He went on to explain that Putin had delusions of Tsarist grandeur and he should not be under-estimated at all. I countered that he was more like a cross between Lenin and Stalin, and Ziggy waved that away with a deft motion. “Nope. He views himself as Vladimir the Great. He believes he will reunite the all Russias, not the Soviet Union, …and he will rule.”

At the time, I thought that was a bit odd, but never one to argue with Ziggy when he’s on a prophetic roll, I filed the idea away in the “useless information that might come in handy” category.

Well, seems like Ziggy is not alone in his assessment of Putin. Angela Merkel said it rather succinctly today:

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is reported to have become “really annoyed” about Russian President Vladimir Putin and has questioned whether he “was still in touch with reality.”

The German mass circulation Bild newspaper wrote on Monday that during a telephone conversation she held with US President Barack Obama to discuss the growing crisis in Ukraine she complained that Mr Putin was “living in another world.”                      reported from Berlin by Tony Paterson for The Telegraph 

 

[Note: This same conversation was also reported in the NY Times on March 2, 2014] 

It’s pretty clear from reports coming out of the Crimea that there is a rift between what the people of the Crimea want, what the Ukrainians want, and what the Russians want. And it’s equally clear from stuff Putin has said in the past that he believes his is a manifest destiny kinda thing, where he restores the Eurasian Russia to its former glory. Of course, there are some former Eurasian Russians who might take issue with that assessment. 

For brevity’s sake, Eurasian Russia is the result of Tsarist expansion between 1533 and 1896. Ivan IV, aka Ivan the Terrible, ruled from 1547 until 1584, making him a contemporary of Elizabeth I of England….just to give you a little context, succeeded in conquering the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, turning Russia into a multi-ethnic state spanning Europe and Asia to the tune of 1,562,500 square miles. Do you think for one Moscow minute that Feckless Leader Putin will settle for anything less?

One of the interesting things about this, is that the guy has no sons; there is no dynasty to be set on a new quasi-imperial throne, à la North Korea. So where is Putin going with this?

I’m not so certain anyone knows. Angela M. might be spot on when she says he’s not on the same planet as us mere mortals. He’s already played the strong man shell game with a Russian version of musical not-so-fairly-elected offices as played with Dmitri Medvedev. 

Now, taking that into account, shall we add John “There’s Never Been A War I Didn’t Like” McCain into the mix? While he insists there should be no military option on the table, he did say things like pull out of the G8 Summit, and the government should invoke the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law and Accountability as a way to sanction Putin for human rights abuse. Like those are going to make a dent. Still, McCain insists the President’s plans are worthless even though they sound pretty much like the same stuff McCain’s touting.  Which makes about as much sense as John McCain ever does. 


In other words, there’s not to much to be done right now other than to boycott the Sochi G8 meeting in June…if it even takes place. Chancellor Merkel and the other European heads of state need to decide amongst themselves what action they will take because they are the ones who will have the greatest impact. Keep your eye on the Chancellor. This is the voice of reason in the whirlwind. She is the one who will wield the greatest influence.

Meanwhile, for the record, this is not a reason to continue the high level of manpower and material we currently are holding in the armed forces. Au contraire, mes amis!  This is the time to figure out how the next wars are to be fought. I do not think for one Moscow minute that this one will actually be fought in the Crimea at all. It will be fought in the markets, in the commodity exchanges, in the board rooms, and ultimately in the European Union. The show of force in the Crimea is just that….a show. 

The Wifely Person’s Tip o’the Week

If you bake hamataschen for shalach manot on Sunday, ship on Monday and it should reach the recipients in plenty of time for Purim!

 

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Kids Just Wanna Have Fun

There are days when I think the United States is just a larger version of Chelm. Now, some of you will automatically chuckle at that reference, others will scratch their heads, so let me clue you in here….you’re supposed to chuckle.

The town of Rogers, Minnesota, will forever be remembered as the town that suspended an academic, athlete, all-star kinda kid over a tweet. An anonymous tweet said that said senior had kissed a teacher. And said senior, in a typical teenage response, replied, “Actually, yeah,” believing that in cyberspace people could see his eyes rolls and hear the sarcasm in his voice. Unfortunately, they did not and what happened next defies parental imagination.

Several days later, the kid, Reid Sagehorn, is hauled into the principal’s office:

He said he had no idea why he was called to the school office, where the principal, athletic director and police liaison officer were waiting for him. A parent had called the office, he said he was told, upset about a possibly inappropriate relationship between Sagehorn and a teacher.

Asked how he felt leaving the principal’s office, he said, “Not really scared. Shocked!”

JeffBeahen

Chief Jeff Beahen

The kid wrote a letter of apology to the teacher. The kids who posted the original anonymous tweet came forward to apologize. The teacher herself came forward to say nothing happened. But that didn’t stop the crack local chief of police, Jeff Beahen, from telling the kid…and the world….that he might be brought up on felony charges. Of course, he backtracked later and said the most would be a gross misdemeanor. But really, how could that have even come out of his mouth?

Where was the superintendent of schools, a guy who as a superintendent of schools oughta know better? All Superintendent Mark Bezek can come up with is, “I feel bad for everyone.” ???????

Look, Reid’s tweet was a stupid way to respond to the anonymous tweet, but we’re talking about a teenage boy here:

        • Was there any inappropriate touching? According to the teacher, no.
        • Was there any bullying? No.
        • Were there any weapons involved? No.
        • Was there a bomb threat? No.
        • Was there at any time a threat to commit bodily harm? No.
        • Was there intent to commit any harm whatsoever? No.

What is the matter wfreereid12ith those people? Are they so stupid that they let this explode into an international incident with teenagers across the globe signing petitions to Free Reid? Are these people suffering from some sort of dementia?

We cannot manage to pass school policies to deal with guns or bullying ….but we can throw a teenager out of school for saying…not actually kissing…. a teacher.  Wow.

Hey! I survived two teenage sons. I know how this works. There are times they’re gonna do and say stupid stuff; it comes with the territory.

However, two things come immediately to mind: the press and the government.

The press gets a hold of something like Reid Sagehorn’s tweet and runs with it. It gets magnified, amplified, and gives a whole lotta people their very own 15 minutes of fame…which turns into a whole month load of shame…like for the police chief who was gonna charge the kid with a felony. That is going to follow Chief Beahen around for a long, long time. Instead, there are headlines like “Minnesota high school student boasts about teacher sexual conquest on Twitter” (Star Tribune) and what should’ve been quietly handled in the principal’s office with the kid, the parents, and the teacher is now a cautionary tale on what not to do.

As for the government…well, in this case it’s the local version of government – the school board. The Elk River Area School District has some serious thinking to do about not only how this escaped into cyberspace, but perhaps more importantly how they are going to respond to social media and the problems that come with it. The district has not been immune to those issues; there have been suicides in the past and they have worked hard on suicide prevention. But these are still teenage students who are going to act like teenage students.

But even with all the serious stuff that comes with a being teenager, there is also a pretty good dose of the ridiculous that comes with age, hormones, and breathing. Teenagers say stupid things and just because stuff falls outta their mouths, it doesn’t mean the kid is all evil. No one is suggesting that Reid Sagehorn shouldn’t write an apology to the teacher, but throwing him out of school for this? It makes no sense.

And it sends all the wrong messages. It drives kids further underground. They stop expressing themselves out of fear. You want kids with no sense of humor? No ability to laugh at themselves and then know how to recognize when stuff crosses the line?

How do any kids ever learn about right and wrong, self-editing, and social interaction unless they are allowed to make mistakes? That’s not to condone bullying, but kids need to say stupid things to each other…and then apologize for it. Teachable moments are important and kids have to have them.

Police chiefs, superintendents, and parents really need to recognize them and use them appropriately. This was not appropriate use of a teachable moment.

Wifely Person’t Tip o’the Week
Never go in the water unless you already know how to swim
                                                                                 Reb Kuni of Chelm
 
 
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